Assessing your technical skills ... for free!

questions valerie everett
Credit: flickr / Valerie Everett

If you're thinking about going after a professional certification or just trying to assess how much you know in a particular system or security subject area, I might have just found what could turn out to be one of your favorite new web sites --

The Skillset site is still in beta, having been launched earlier this month, but already has a huge collection of questions organized into quizzes that can help you prepare for those scary exams or just show you where your strength and weaknesses are in critical technology domains of expertise. And it's free.

Thinking about going for a certification? Or maybe you just want to know where you'd stand if you did? This site could help propel you into the next big jump in your career. And for nothing more than the time you're willing to invest, you can begin to get important insights into many interesting and highly relevant subjects.

The 55 areas currently covered include:

  • Access control
  • Application, data and host security
  • Buffer overflows
  • Business continuity & disaster recovery planning
  • Compliance and operational security
  • Computer hacking forensic investigation
  • Cryptography
  • Cryptography Basics
  • Ethical hacking
  • Evading IDS, firewalls and honeypots
  • Footprinting and reconnaissance
  • Google cloud platform
  • Hacking mobile platforms
  • Hacking web applications
  • Hacking wireless networks
  • Information security governance & risk management
  • IP routing
  • IP services
  • LAN switching
  • Legal, regulations, investigations and compliance
  • Linux Fundamentals
  • Malware Essentials
  • Network Concepts
  • Network Device Security
  • Network Installation and Configuration
  • Network Management
  • Network Media and Topologies
  • Network Security
  • Network Security Essentials
  • Network Troubleshooting
  • Operations Security
  • Organizational Influences and Project Life Cycle
  • Penetration Testing
  • Physical (Environmental) Security
  • Project Communications Management
  • Project Cost Management
  • Project Human Resource Management
  • Project Integration Management
  • Project Management Processes
  • Project Procurement Management
  • Project Quality Management
  • Project Risk Management
  • Project Scope Management
  • Project Stakeholder Management
  • Project Time Management
  • Scanning Networks
  • Security Architecture & Design
  • Session Hijacking
  • Sniffing
  • Social Engineering
  • Software Development and Security Fundamentals
  • System Hacking
  • Telecommunications and Network Security
  • Threats and Vulnerabilities
  • WAN Technologies

Yes, that's a lot of material. So, let's say you were interested in Access Control and Identity Management. You would then select from the three sub-areas:

  • Access Control Fundamentals
  • Access Control Effectiveness
  • Access Control Attacks

For any of these areas, you would then run through a series of questions. You start by working toward the Beginner level. You would also have an opportunity to review some explanations and comments that other people have left for the questions posed and add some of your own if you are so inclined.  And you don't have to put out hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Once you've answered enough questions accurately, you move to the Intermediate area and afterwards, more questions and answers, until you get to the Expert level. After each level, you can review the questions and answers. I used each set of questions and the added material as an opportunity to review those areas in which I was weak so that I could google my way to a better understanding of the particular technology.

I got the impression that some areas, such as the Linux Fundamentals area are not yet ready for prime time, but the other areas that I worked through were substantial and posed a lot of questions that led me to looking up technologies that I had little or no familiarity with. The overall effect was that I felt that I had learned quite a bit just by going through the questions and that, in some cases, I was pleased that I knew enough to quickly move to the expert level.

The topics represent a very impressive line up of technologies that represent critical areas in today's technical areas, particularly in information security. Thinking about going after any of these certifications?

  • CEH
  • CHFI
  • Network+
  • PMP
  • Security+

If so, might prove to be an invaluable aid to helping you prepare. And did I say "free"? Yes, this sight lets you sign up and test your skills for free.

To provide some background, Skillset is an educational technology startup located in Madison, WI or, more precisely, "beautiful Madison, Wisconsin". Their mission is to change the way we assess our own skills-based knowledge as well as the knowledge of others. And I, for one, expect that they're going to very successful in meeting this goal. Just give them a little time to work out the kinks.  And maybe you'll soon be seeing some of these:

skillset 26

There may still be some minor bugs ( and likely many areas that are still under development, but this site is likely to be a favorite resource for many people wanting to come up to speed or just determine their speed in so many vital and exciting areas of today's technology.  And, yes, I did really get 100% correct!  :-)

And did I mention that use of the site is entirely free?  You can't get much better than that.  This is a resource that could become invaluable as you move ahead in your career and get ready for some of those professional certifications that demonstrate your levels of expertise.

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